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Prague, Czech Republic, Munich, Germany, Milan, Italy, Zurich, Switzerland

Program Description


Public Relations in a European Context is a 3-week study abroad program that offers students an opportunity to learn about and engage with public relations and communication theory in a European context. Coursework will include a collection of readings focusing on public relations in each of the countries visited (Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy), on-site lectures by both program directors, as well as lectures and workshops organized by communication professionals in each of the cities on the itinerary. Topics under examination include, but are not limited to, “Definitions of Public Relations,” “Similarities and Differences Between U.S. and European Public Relations,” “European Mass Media,” “Legal and Ethical Considerations,” “Governmental Communication,” “Public Relations Agencies in Europe,” “Tourism, Entertainment, and Sports Communication,” “Consumer Communications,” etc.


As part of the program, two courses are offered: SCOM 318: Topics in Communication Studies (European Public Relations) and SCOM 369: Topics in Engaged Public Relations (European Public Relations). SCOM 369 is a required course for SCOM students with a public relations concentration. SCOM 318 can be taken by any other SCOM or university student.

Both courses are experiential and will take full advantage of the courses’ location. At every opportunity, students will experience the communication industry first hand. Using Europe as our laboratory, students will learn the history, cases, policies, principles, and trends in the continent’s public relations discipline. Europe has many global centers for public relations and we will be visiting a handful of them.
Students will learn about the history of public relations and communication in Europe. Due to many reasons, such as government type, public media, location, and size, the history of
public relations is very different from the United States. Students will be able to compare and contrast those histories and understand the implications for practitioners today. Students will also demonstrate knowledge of communication theory and application through case studies and class discussions. Cases will be location focused and include field trips.

Location Description

Using Prague (Czech Republic) as a launchpad for a three-week trek through eastern and central Europe, making subsequent stops in Munich (Germany), Zurich (Switzerland) and our final destination Milan (Italy), participants in this program will study public relations and communication theory in a European context. Rich in history and tradition, elegantly mixing old world customs with modern sensibilities, these European metropoles—all of which are popular tourist hotspots—will serve as an exciting, picturesque, and intellectually stimulating backdrop for our examination of public relations and communication theory. Not only will students be able to visit world-class museums and art galleries, enjoy modern and medieval architecture, and partake in local food traditions, they will also be meeting with and learning from communication professionals in each city. More specifically, students will be invited into the offices of European public relations agencies and thus be given an opportunity to learn how strategic communication practices differ not only among neighboring European countries but also how European strategic communication is different from what they have grown accustomed to in the United States.

Traveling from city to city by way of buses and trains, students will come to appreciate how different cultures and communication practices can be even across relatively short distances. While only 4 hours of travel separate Prague from Munich, Munich from Zurich, and Zurich from Milan, the customs and communication practices in all of these cities are still markedly different. Indeed, separated by roughly the same distance as Washington D.C. and Boston, Prague and Milan are nonetheless worlds apart in some important respects. As such, and in addition to gaining theoretical and conceptual knowledge of public relations and communication more broadly, students will gain an understanding and appreciation for the unique cultural norms, differences, and practices that govern these European countries.


Corey Hickerson | | School of Communications Studies

Luke Capizzo | | School of Communications Studies


Because of the program's migratory nature (we will spend about 5-6 days in each location), students will be housed in centrally located hostels and hotels close to public transportation hubs in Prague, Munich, Zurich, and Milan. In efforts to keep cost down, students will be sharing rooms (2-4 students per room). Most European hostels and hotels have free and/or cheap internet access and laundry facilities.

Students will be allocated a weekly meal stipend that will cover approximately 14 meals per week. Group dinners, bringing together all program participants, will also occur 1-2 times per week.

Additional Items to Consider

Students with U.S. passports do not need visas for Germany, Italy, Switzerland, or the Czech Republic. Students with non-U.S. passports are encouraged to contact Dr. Hickerson or Dr. Capizzo if they are unsure about whether they need to obtain visas for one or more of the countries listed. Any reasonable accommodation will be made in order to ensure that students are assisted with their visa applications should visas be necessary.

COVID-19 Location Information:

Each country has different requirements upon entry with regard to COVID-19. Please check this website for the most up-to-date information on what is required for the country (or countries) that are part of this program. Please note that this changes often, so we encourage you to check back frequently.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

No foreign language proficiency is required.

Some German recommended but not required

Prerequisite: SCOM 260 for SCOM 369 - No Rerequisite for SCOM 318

Sophomore, Junior, or Senior standing preferred. (Freshman students will be considered on an individual basis after interviewing with one or both of the program directors)

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


SCOM 318: Practicum in Communication Studies (3 credits)

SCOM 369: Topics in Engaged Public Relations (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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